In this blog post, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the latest update for FFXIV: Heavensward, called “Digging Through Heaven’sward”. The update has been in the oven longer than most games these days and finally was released on June 23rd. We’ll also talk about some of the things that have changed since 2014 when it first came out to what players can expect from now until launch day.
The “heavensward” is the first expansion pack for Final Fantasy XIV. It was released on June 23, 2015. The expansion adds a new playable race, the Gnome.
As I progressed through the Heavensward expansion material, my opinion on Final Fantasy XIV remained unchanged. The game has more of an anime series adventure feel to it than an MMO or even a game. It reminds me of One Piece, which I enjoy: a fantastic universe, an emphasis on the exploits of beloved characters and the narrative rather than gameplay.
Moving between questgivers and reading dialogues/watching cutscenes is still the majority of the activity, which is precisely what I come to the game for now, as a break from the intense yet lore-stripped WoW repetitious endgame activities. As I previously said, the two games are diametrically opposed; WoW enables you to avoid switching on your brain during fast-paced, furious combat, while FFXIV is more about understanding the characters, the environment, and their tales in a leisurely manner. I only get a combat mission every 30 minutes or so, and maybe a narrative dungeon or two each chapter, but the plot is intriguing and enthralling – not to mention the excellent music.
Yesterday, my wife and I wanted to see a movie, and I told her I needed to finish a dungeon first – stating the projected time of 5 minutes as I was approaching the last boss (Nidhogg). What I didn’t anticipate was a 10-minute cutscene after the dungeon!
We joked about it since she isn’t a gamer, but I keep her up to speed on my exploits and other game oddities, so no damage done 🙂 Still, as much as I wanted to complete the “episode” by completing the last chapter quest, which was immediately after the dungeon, I had to postpone it until the next day since I feared another plot-heavy and lengthy sequence, which we couldn’t allow this evening 🙂
Oh, and since FFXIV reminds me so much of an anime series, I’ve started referring to MSQ sections as arcs (expansions) and episodes (chapters). I also approach my gaming time in the same way I approach watching a season of a television show: attempting to match my gameplay sessions to chapters and turnpoints, logging out at a cliffhanger, and all that.
I’m keeping track of my MSQ progress on an FFXIV wiki page, and it seems that I’m in the midst of the last but one of the major Heavensward narrative courses – with a few brief patches ahead of me. I’m going to tackle the Vault dungeon, that revolution thingie in Ishgard city, for those who haven’t played.
There’s no hurry, and after my lancer complete the expansion narrative, I’ll catch up with my mage toon in lancer’s footsteps. But it’s already time to purchase the next expansion, since it seems like I’ll reach the current expansion’s level limit pretty soon, far before I complete Heavensward, and I’d want my quest XP to count.
What’s the Point of the Story?
Well, there isn’t much to critique if anything at all – I adore it. The dragon/Ishgard battle isn’t very emotional, but it’s nonetheless entertaining to watch, with a lot of moral problems to consider. The game’s main antagonists are looming on the horizon, so expect more twists and turns.
Of course, I like the Game of Thrones-style twists and resolutions to past events and personalities, but only in the sense that Game of Thrones brutally slaughters its characters, while FFXIV does the reverse, which is reassuring 🙂
What’s not to appreciate about Alphinaud now that he’s evolved from an obnoxious brat to an Anduin-type character, complete with matching clothing color scheme? The only gripe I have is that we still have to rescue and find other Scions; shouldn’t they have been discovered and freed as soon as Ul’dah’s status quo was restored? We’ll have to discover more about it as the narrative progresses, but even if Alphinaud and Tataru are the best friends ever, I’d want to see and engage with more of my previous teammates.
Other minor details
It’s a yes for the mount I received! It’s such a comfortable and beautiful trip that I’m now flying it by default.
In this expansion, they introduced “pathfinder” criteria. You previously unlocked flying for all “vanillla” content when you achieved level 50. To enable flying in the current region, you must complete 5 narrative quest checkpoints each zone and visit 10 open world checkpoints per zone starting with this expansion. I mean, I don’t mind logical gating, and my inner explorer is very content with it. However, you unlock flights after you’ve completed the zone and moved on, so… is there really a purpose in flying after that? Anyway, flights are preferable than non-flights, so it’s something I do.
Because it was too unpleasant to return EVERY point in my first zone and see if I missed it, I soon learnt to download the checkpoint maps from the same wiki page and have MS Paint open at all times to monitor my progress, mark it, and not miss the checkpoints along the way. I’ve learned my lesson:
Overall, Final Fantasy XIV delivers precisely what I expected. I’m a sucker for narrative and adventure, the discovery of new places and civilizations, and that’s precisely what I find here, in both MMO and non-MMO games.
Again, and I’ll never stop saying it, the situation of selecting FFXIV over WoW or vice versa has never been, and will never be, and anybody who even considers doing so should go suck my privates. You may play and enjoy both, as well as a variety of games and movie and book series, which is precisely what I’m doing right now. It’s not a competition, and the further I go into FFXIV, the more I appreciate – and appreciate the distinctions and unique experiences they offer, which enriches my gaming life at the present.
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